August’s delivery from Japan

This striking 1883 series is called “The Popularity of the Upstairs Dressing Room”) 楽屋 二階 影 評判, featuring famous actors of the time being dressed. The viewer spies the actor through a gap in the screens and the dresser is seen in silhouette.  

This is another lovely series by Kunichika and some other contributing artists (e.g. Kaoru Umemoto) called “Comparisons of Famous Products, the Pride of Tokyo” (Tokyo jiman meibutsu awase, 東京自慢名物会), 1896. Each print is beautifully designed with lots of bokashi (fades) and very detailed work. It is clearly very high-quality.

The next group are from the beautiful series “Thirty Six Tokyo Restaurants” (東京三十六会席), produced in 1870-71. Each picture features a geisha set against a red asa-no-ha background and then a panel behind her depicts a local restaurant. This is clearly part advertising for the restaurants but the subject is undoubtedly the girls.  

This beautiful Chikashige print features a picture (of Nagoya Sanza & Fuwa Banzaemon) within a picture – both signed by the artist. I find it very intriguing but have found very little about it so far. 

A really beautiful design – Onoe Kikugorō V playing the ghost of Iwafuji in the play “Kagamiyama Gonichi no Iwafuji”, at the Shintomiza theatre on 5th April 1895.

This is the closing scene from one of my favourite Meiji plays “Shinza the Barber”. Onoe Kikugoro V & Ichikawa Sadanji I in the play ‘Mukashi Hachijō Ōoka Seidan’ (昔八丈大岡政談) (aka. Shinza, the Barber) performed at the Kabuki-za theatre from May 1893.

This beautiful print is actually 2 orphaned pages (left & right) from a triptych. I don’t normally buy orphaned sheets but this one struck me as still working as a composition in its own right. 

A few more from the play “Okige no kumo harau Asagochi”, staged at the Shintomi-za theatre from 23rd February 1878. One of the most popular plays of its time.

Another print for a famous play called “Kiwametsuki Banzui Chōbē” (“the last days of Banzui Chōbē”) featuring a type of character called a “chivalrous commoner”. While confronting a drunk and an arrogant samurai at a kabuki performance he inadvertently humiliates the local lord (who they work for). He is later invited to a party by the lord, who he understands will kill him, but his honour compels him to attend, nonetheless. Chōbē’s honour contrasts with the evil lord who would get his henchmen to ambush & kill him. 

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